For years, we have been producing documentaries on social and emotional learning, mental health, and equity distributed through television and schools. Through that work, it became clear that educators are not only addressing social problems, but creating a school-based civil rights movement that is transforming the lives of students and families.
Children of color are now the majority of America’s youth. Yet, polls show race relations are at an all-time low; and, Black and Latino populations are among the most disenfranchised in America. National studies indicate that anxiety and depression rates among adolescents have increased 5-fold since the 1930s. Over 70 percent of LGBTQ+ youth report feelings of depression and anxiety in the last week.
Education as a Pathway for Positive Social Change
Now we find ourselves at a defining moment in our nation. Many suggest that the increase in mental health issues is tied to social justice concerns and are calling for educators to take the lead in solving these problems that highlight the connections between race, gender, socio-economic status, and mental health outcomes. Leading voices in education are answering the call through new teaching and learning strategies that advance equity, promote social and emotional development, and improve mental health.
Defining US shares their stories, what they are teaching our children, and how they are changing US.
“Education is the starting point for the ripple effect of positive change not only in academics but in improving social justice and mental health. Schools have a captive audience of students and provide a common platform for families.
Principals and school district administrators are at the center of their community. They have strong relationships with local community leaders, county governments, mental health providers, social services, and law enforcement because all the work ties together to support children and families.”
Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, Chief Academic Officer, Los Angeles Unified School District Schools.
Defining US Documentary Series
Our documentary series focuses on the role of education in helping us understand and improve issues of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, poverty and homelessness, physical and mental difference, and more.
The first documentary in the series addresses our conflicting perceptions and attitudes about race, personhood, and truth. It tells the up close and personal stories of children of color who are now the majority of America’s youth and the important role of education in counteracting harmful stereotypes and helping students discover their power, potential, and ability to lead us into the future.
Educators share the unheard story of how they are teaching our children to better understand themselves and each other and what they all can teach US.
Defining US Platform for Social Change
Our community classroom includes:
- Resources: We produce real stories about youth and adults that creating pathways for understanding tough to talk about social and emotional issues. Watch our videos and use accompanying text resources that help us learn how to see ourselves in each other and build the skills that define our humanity: empathy, respect, vulnerability, compassion, connection, acceptance, and more.
- Expertise: Link to our experts’ channel with streaming videos from the nation’s leading voices in education, wellness, and community development. Learn from their example as they share solutions for improving equity, social and emotional learning, and physical, mental, and spiritual health in America.
- A National Network: Explore a national network of school districts, post-secondary institutions, community organizations, and other partners that are sharing programs and practices to create unity, hope, and healing across our nation.
“We take everyone who shows up to our school house doors, everyone, so this is the place where you can make the difference if you really want to change the world.”
– Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Founder Uplift!, Co-Founder UNITE, Former Urban Schools Superintendent